Bootleg Anime Figures: Spot Real from Fake

Table of Contents

What Is A Bootleg Anime Figure?

The term “bootleg” refers to counterfeit versions of legitimate products. They are distinguishable from the actual items due to factors such as the quality of the paint job, the lack of appropriate labels or stickers, and the price. 

Items that are produced through illegal means are typically made for a very low cost but can be sold for a high price. They are also commonly found in underdeveloped countries, such as practically every country in Asia. They are found in a variety of environments.

To put it more simply, a bootleg figure is one that has not been granted the appropriate authorization or approval. In most cases, bootlegs are imitations of licensed figures that are sold to collectors or vendors under the guise of the genuine figure. 

Bootleg Anime Figure

These imitations are typical of a worse quality than the legal figure they are attempting to imitate. To begin, those responsible for driving down prices on the market are those selling bogus anime figures. 

Second, the production of these fakes undermines the genuine effort that its creators have put out. Thirdly, this method brings into question the reliability of the original character. 

The fact that their years of labor are wasted in this way is an insult to their dignity as creators. When individuals promote work that has been done before, they bring dishonor to the entire field of creative professionals, including manga creators, anime producers, visual artists, figurine manufacturers, and graphic designers. 

Do not let yourself become a victim of these dishonest replications if you are a consumer! In addition, there are some people who do not have any issues with the idea of owning fake anime figurines because, in their opinion, the two types of figurines seem virtually identical. 

It is reasonable to purchase a counterfeit or bootleg figurine if you are looking for something that costs significantly less yet appears to be the same.

How to Identify A Fake/Bootleg Anime Figure?

Packaging/Box Art and Design

Worth IT roronoa zoro figures

The makers put in a lot of effort to mimic the genuine article as accurately as they can. A person who is not familiar with anime would be unable to differentiate between a fake and a real anime figurine if they were shown side by side. 

In point of fact, true fans of anime would probably have a hard time distinguishing between the two! They are skilled at replicating the actual figures, but they often leave out important little nuances in the process. It is really difficult to notice these minute particulars unless you are specifically looking for them, to begin with.

Faded Text Descriptions/Wordings

Since they do not have the passion for duplicating these intricate details, the manufacturers do not have the motivation to create anime figures that are as perfect as they possibly can be. 

They concentrate on producing the figure itself since their ultimate goal is to make a speedy profit from the sale of the figurine as soon as it may be done. In addition to this, the titles or logos on the box are often the incorrect color. 

You cannot expect manufacturers of fake figurines to have a high level of familiarity with the series. The research that they do is not detailed as a result of which products of a lower quality are produced. As a direct consequence of this, the figures do not feature any complex detailing.

No Barcode

Figures with No Barcode

Due to the fact that they do not need to keep track of a significant quantity of stock, the manufacturers of these imitation anime figures almost never put a barcode label on the box that the figurine comes in. 

In most cases, they will simply upload the finished products to various internet marketplaces. Why, for that matter, should one even try to maintain track of stock labels in accordance with international standards?

No Authentication or An Official License Sticker Present

Original anime makers can be recognized by a sticker that is glossy or holographic in appearance. 

This sticker typically has an embedded version of its logo. In the end, the sticker that the manufacturer of bootleg anime figures created is little more than a sheet of paper. However, this is debatable because there are producers that are capable of readily duplicating these stickers.

The Lid of The Box Features A Circular Piece of Clear Tape

Box Features A Circular Piece of Clear Tape

Additionally, because it prevents the cover from slipping off, it helps to shield the anime figure from any unintentional exposure that may occur while it is being shipped. The vast majority of companies who make imitation anime don’t use these circular stickers; instead, they employ regular scotch tape.

The Anime Figure Itself

The vast majority of vendors or enterprises will not permit you to open the box to inspect the figure within. Because the front of the majority of boxes is made of translucent material, it is able to examine the figurine in great detail.

Examine the Facial Expression as Well as The Level of Detail in The Paint Job

Manufacturers of fakes often cut costs by painting bootlegs with paint of inferior quality and low cost. As a consequence of this, imitation anime figurines frequently have smudges on their faces, and some of them have eyebrows or eye lines that are abnormally thick. 

The face with a neutral expression is the one that is fitted by default. Look at the official photographs provided by the major distributors and examine the many expressions that come pre-installed on the anime figures. 

After all, fraudulent anime figurines do not have to pass any rigorous quality tests before being sold. As a direct consequence of this, they have resorted to making a different facial expression to the default face plating.

Components Such as Weaponry, Clothing, And Accessories Lack the Level of Detail Included in The Original Piece

To be able to detect this demands a particular set of information, which in turn requires a level of expertise. According to the anime series, certain aspects of the character’s appearance may not be accurate. 

For instance, the sword or magic wand may not have the appropriate curves, the cape may be the incorrect color, and the shoes may have a different design. These inconspicuous characteristics are the elements that can be used to identify a fake. 

The practice of shopping online, which typically results in reduced prices as well as greater convenience, has become widespread in recent years. The fact that it is unable to physically examine the figure is, nonetheless, one of the drawbacks; however, there are other ways to determine whether or not it is genuine.


The Suggested Retail Prices (SRP) for official merchandise are determined by the respective producers. In order to ensure that pricing is comparable throughout all places around the world, distributors are required to adhere to this set of criteria. 

As a consequence of this, the pricing of figurines purchased from authorized retailers should not stray too significantly from the prices listed on official product packaging. In a similar vein, this pricing is applicable to purchases done online. 

Anime Figure Pricing Strategy

The following is a general range for their prices: Nendoroid – $30 to $60, Scale figure – $60 to $350, Figma – $35 to $60. When you come across a brand new anime figurine that is being sold for an extremely low price, you need to be cautious.


Although there is a wide variety of packaging for bootlegs, there are a few red flags that you should watch out for. 

To begin, we strongly advise looking online for photographs of the actual packaging that comes with the collectible figure. If the box that you see is completely different, you should look into whether or not there have been any earlier releases that used a different box (very rare). If not, there is a very good possibility that you are in possession of a pirated copy.

Check to see whether the images on the box are pixelated in any way if you are having problems locating photos of the box online. The quality of the image is ruined when it is blown up since counterfeit toy boxes typically employ photos of the figure that were provided by the original toy company. 

Anime Figure Packaging Bootlegs

The coloring is typically incorrect as well; inspect the box for any dark patches and observe whether or not the shading and highlighting are intricate and precise. 

The visual quality of most bootlegs will be low, and the pirated content will appear more blocky and less detailed than the original. In addition to this, the cardboard is typically quite thin and fragile, which means that warping or tears are very common.

The tissue wrapping around the box of a fake figure, if it is present at all, is typically very opaque or glossy rather than matte and translucent like that of an actual figure, even though it is not strictly a component of the box itself.

Plastic Blister Quality

One of the most critical components that contribute to the overall safety of a figure while it is in motion is the blister pack that it comes packaged in. 

The manufacturer will typically ensure that the blister provides the most amount of protection possible by ensuring that the plastic is durable and that the cutouts are designed to retain the figure securely. 

Anime Plastic Blister Quality

When we’ve looked at bootlegs, we’ve noticed that the blister packs almost always have large amounts of tape used to seal them close. The plastic of this type is typically of very poor construction and is prone to bending and warping readily. 

In addition, the spots that are included in the blister will not be a good fit for the figure; they will either be excessively large or have a shape that does not appear to match that of the figure.


The craftsmanship and quality of materials used in counterfeit goods are typically below average, at best. Because of this, bootlegs often have a smell that is heavily dominated by the smell of chemicals. 

There is a good chance that you are dealing with a counterfeit product if, as soon as you open the packaging, you are assaulted by the pungent odor of what can be most accurately characterized as cancer-causing plastic. 

It is important to keep in mind that the paint can deteriorate and start to smell if your figure is a little bit older or has had some contact with sun or heat (has the box been sun-bleached?). Because of this, it is important to check for additional warning signals.


When unboxing your figure, the face is sometimes an excellent place to start looking for signs of a fake and can often be used as a dead giveaway. 

The distinctions between the two can be comically obvious at times, while at other times, they are more elusive. When verifying your figure for any anomalies, make sure to utilize the close-up images that the manufacturer generally publishes of the figure as they are published. 

Make sure that the intricacies of the eyes, nose, and mouth are examined carefully to see whether or not there are any noticeable differences!


When in doubt regarding the authenticity of a figure, the best place to look is typically the figure’s hair. Many anime figures have their hair painstakingly painted in order to give the impression of body and depth. Gradients or shadows and highlights are utilized in order to give the impression of a more realistic appearance. 

The painting of the hair on most bootlegs is typically blocky and badly tinted if it even has any shading at all. This is one aspect that many bootlegs are unable to imitate. 

Anime Figure Hair

Another important consideration is the overall form of the hair! The tips of the hair, which are typically pointed, become more rounded at the ends and have the potential to become completely deformed when recasts are performed. 

It is possible that a recast has been done if the original character’s hair does not have the same shape as the new hair.


Some bootlegs are created by using the original, authentic figures’ molds to create new ones. Molds need to be replaced periodically by manufacturers because, after prolonged usage, they might start to become misshapen, which has a negative impact on the overall quality of the production process. 

The fact that illicit producers will typically acquire these items and start utilizing them in their own manufacturing means that sculptural flaws are really widespread. 

These flaws can become more severe and widespread as a result of the fact that bootleggers do not often replace the molds used in their production. Some bootleggers will recast a figure in order to create their very own molds. This process typically involves pouring silicone around the figure in order to create a mold that is nearly identical to the original. 

Anime Figure Sculpting

However, the form of the figure will frequently become slightly altered, and certain details on the clothing may become obscured or distorted.

Last but not least, the seams on bootleg figures are typically far more obvious and are not integrated as effectively as they should be. An extremely visible and noticeable seam is not a normal feature of a figure, despite the fact that seams are a normal part of a figure.


The poor paint quality of bootlegs is well-known in the industry. There will be instances in which the coloring will extend outside of the lines, or the lines themselves will be drawn incorrectly. In most cases, gradients and textures are either executed poorly or are completely omitted. 

Examine the areas of the figure that have the most intricate details, as it is in these areas that you are most likely to detect evidence of sloppy painting. 

If you want to determine whether or not there are severe flaws, look for stripes or for little regions that have a lot of detailed paintwork. Paint bubbles are another issue that frequently arises with counterfeit goods due to the absence of any quality control measures. 

Anime Figure Painting

If the painting seems to be of very low quality, you could want to investigate whether or not there is a recognized fake version of the figure.


Authentic action figures typically have joints that allow for fluid posing and nearly no resistance when the figure’s limbs are adjusted. They are also designed to blend in with the body of the figure so that they are not overly noticeable. 

This is done to ensure that the figure is accurate. When purchasing a bootleg, however, you should expect the joints of a figure to be badly or clumsily manufactured. 

The ability to assume different poses is greatly hindered (a movement that is jerky or requires a lot of force to change), and the joints can also be quite visible in some cases (they may stick out more or have large amounts of space between parts).

Can You Protect Yourself from Falling into The Trap of Bootlegs?

Anime Figure Bootleg Trap

In addition to being aware of the red flags of a bootleg anime figure, there are a few more aspects that should be kept in mind.

Examine the Price

You never know when you’re going to stumble across the deal of a lifetime while you’re looking for a number. Although a low price is not always indicative of a fake, it should always be seen as a potential red flag. 

Investigate the reputation of the vendor to determine whether or not they have a history of selling counterfeit goods. How do their ratings and reviews stack up in general? 

Suppose the seller has a terrible reputation and the price of the figure is much lower than what the figure would normally sell for. In that case, there is a considerable likelihood that the figure is a bootleg.

Ask for Photos and Check for Signs of a Bootleg

If you are making a purchase online and the images that are included with the listing are not actual photos of the item you are purchasing, you should inquire with the seller about whether or not you can view further photos of the item. 

If the vendor refuses to provide the information and there are several red flags that indicate the seller is selling counterfeit goods, you should probably rethink making an order with them.

Key Takeaways!

The vast majority of the collecting community frowns negatively upon bootlegs, yet the majority of the discourse neglects to explain why this is the case. Some collectors look at bootlegs as an opportunity to save money while continuing their passion. 

Others see it as fair competition to large producers, who can sometimes ask a heavy price for their figures. However, there are problems that should be addressed about the industry of bogus figures. 

These concerns include: The quality of a figure is not only determined by the figure itself but also by the materials that are utilized in its production. Because the production process does not place a priority on control or regulations (for reasons that should be evident), the majority of the materials utilized are extremely low-cost but could pose a health risk. 

For instance, it was discovered that certain counterfeit children’s toys that were smuggled into the UK contained high levels of chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Sometimes the terrible quality of a bootleg goes beyond what is immediately apparent to the naked eye. 

The bootleg sector is a corrupt one due to the fact that many people who work in it are involved in activities other than the manufacture of fake figures. In many cases, these statistics are just one of the many ways that major criminal organizations make money. 

Although it is impossible to corroborate, there are accounts of workers at legal figure factories being subjected to physical assault and intimidation as part of unlawful procurement activities. These accounts, however, are difficult to verify.

In addition, the industry of counterfeiting is known for its use of child labor and the operation of sweatshops. In the absence of any laws or standards to uphold operations, bootleggers will look to produce as much as they can for as little as they can get away with. 

Last but not least, the backing of bootleg figures has repercussions beyond only a loss of cash and support for the manufacturer. Because the whole anime industry is dependent on item sales, everyone in the industry, from the figure producer to the animation creator, will be forced to shoulder the majority of the financial burden associated with these missed sales.

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